The Real Story Behind Cinderella Is Much Darker Than Disney Revealed

Last updated: Oct 01, 2023

When some of us hear “Cinderella,” our mind goes to the 1950 Disney fairy tale animation or the adapted live-action films.

However, many older versions have darker tones than what Disney showed us.

The Earliest Version by Strabo

Written by Greek geographer Strabo, this version is about Rhodopis. Rhodopis was initially enslaved but later became a courtesan (prostitute). One day, An eagle snatched one of her sandals when she was bathing.



The bird carried it to the king, Memphis, and dropped it on his lap. The king was mesmerized by the beautiful shape of the sandal and how it was delivered to him. He ordered the search for the owner, found her, and married her.

Valia Storia by Roman Author Aelian

Aelian named his heroine Aspasia. Aspasia’s mother died, and she grew up in poverty with her father. She dreamed she would be a noblewoman one day, but she had a growth on her face, which in those days would have prevented that achievement. However, she had a dream in which a dove appeared and turned into a woman.



The woman instructed Aspasia to treat the growth with Aphrodite’s roses. She did, and her beauty returned. She eventually went to a ball where a prince fell in love with her. The couple then goes on to be married.

Cenerentola by Giambattista Basile

Cenerentola’s real name in this story is Zezolla. She has a governess who tells her to kill her stepmother so Zezolla’s father would marry her. Zezolla obliges the governess, and her father goes on to marry her. She later gives birth to six children, all of whom mistreat Zezolla.


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When her father travels and brings her date seeds, she grows them into a tree. A fairy inside the tree helps her with a beautiful gown she wears to a ball, where she wins the king’s heart.

Cendrillion by Charles Perrault

This story is the closest to the Disney version. After Cendrillion loses a slipper and the prince comes to return it, the eldest stepdaughter tries it on. Her first toe was too big, so her mother tells her to cut it off.



As the prince was taking her away happily ever after, the birds that favor Cendrillion tell the prince what happened. The couple returns, and the second step-sister has to cut off her heel for the shoe to fit. The same birds tattle on her, allowing Cendrillion to try it. It’s a perfect fit, and the two get married.